By Jayna Richardson
When Al MacKinnon received an invitation from Military Christian Fellowship (MCF) to come to earthquake-torn Nepal on a mission trip, he quickly agreed. Knowing that life there has been challenging since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit there a year ago, he was looking forward to the opportunity to serve other believers and do trauma coaching. He wasn’t expecting God to use him in another way—to minister to Nepali marriages with truths that they had never heard before.
Al works with couples frequently through his role with Cru’s Military Life ministry in New Zealand and has been through FamilyLife’s speaker training. His training served him well on this trip. After he and his friend, Mark, taught on trauma during an MCF meeting, their next stop was Dhading, a village that was badly affected by the quake in April 2015. One of the MCF hosts asked Al if he would be willing to speak on marriage. With no marriage materials on hand other than his Bible on his iPad, Al quickly put together a talk, drawing largely from his years as a FamilyLife speaker at marriage conferences in Fiji and New Zealand.
Al taught mostly from Ephesians 5 and made a particular call to the men to step up in their roles as husbands. He was very surprised by the depth of emotion and hunger the Nepali displayed for biblical marriage principles. “We often forget in the West that our marriage traditions even outside the church are based on the Bible,” he explains. “So there is a basic expectation that we will care for each other when we get married. Nepali culture does not have that Christian base, and so their marriages generally do not model the level of mutual care that God expects of us to make our marriages work as they were designed to.”
Some of the audience, including men who are typically very stoic, were in tears as they began to hear and understand God’s plan for their marriages. The MCF hosts asked Al and Mark if they could continue speaking on marriage at their next three stops. As Al continued to share biblical truths on love and marriage, he was struck by the fact that although Nepali culture is very different from Western culture, the biblical model for marriage resonated the same in Nepal as in any other culture he has taught in.
Recognizing the need for strong marriage and family training throughout Nepal, MCF has decided to continue training their staff in ministering to marriages and families, which means Al hopes to continue to make trips to Nepal to help train Nepali military and police personnel. “We will hold on to our plans loosely so that God can shift them around as He pleases, but our current hope is that after five years MCF will be full of stronger families able to strengthen the families around them and help people to grow closer to God,” says Al.
Nepal is a difficult environment in which to serve God and strengthen marriages, particularly as the country continues to attempt to rebuild amidst unrest and supply limitations. Even so, as the Nepali work to rebuild their buildings and cities, God is at work building their faith and families.